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EU regulator OKs Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for all adults

by editor

The coronavirus vaccine by Oxford/AstraZeneca is safe and effective enough to use in adults over the age of 18, the European Medicines Agency announced Friday.

The European Commission is expected later Friday to rubber-stamp the EMA’s recommendation to formally approve the vaccine in the EU with a conditional marketing authorization.

A German scientific committee said Thursday there wasn’t enough data to know whether the jab is suitable for people 65 and over. The U.K. approved the vaccine at the end of December with a temporary emergency use authorization applicable in people over the age of 18.

The British vaccine was expected to help Europe’s lagging vaccination campaigns because it’s far cheaper and easier to use compared to the two mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna licensed in the EU. But the company announced on January 22 that it will provide at least 75 million doses fewer than expected in the first quarter.

The European Commission signed a contract in August to secure 300 million doses of the viral vector vaccine, with the option to purchase an additional 100 million.

The viral vector vaccine was long seen as the front-runner but was delayed after clinical trial issues in the fall. The vaccine trials reported an overall 70 percent efficacy rate — 62 percent when participants were given two full doses and 90 percent when they were initially given a half-dose by accident.

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